Cairns

North Queensland

Travel Guide

If it's something in the water that made North Queensland so infectiously crazy, then it lies just off shore and is called the Great Barrier Reef. Nature's biggest masterpiece aside, this is also the perfect place to soak up the rich culture of Australia. This top right side of Australia has beaches, night markets, great weather, one of the world's oldest surviving rainforests, and loads of hidden waterfalls - plus some amazing islands just off the coast to check out! Local Aussie living at it's best.

Top places to visit in Tropical North Queensland

gbr
Great Barrier Reef
This 2,300km wide reef off the coast of Queensland is the largest living organism on Earth. Head out on a one or multi-day cruise from Cairns to spot turtles, sharks and Nemo fish, learn to dive in its colourful, warm depths, or even land a job helping to conserve and protect the coral. 
Magnetic Island
With secluded beaches, top diving and koalas aplenty, this is Australia at its finest. What's more as the home of Oz's Full Moon Party, it's THE place to part. So pack the thongs (no not THOSE) get out the UV paint and get ready to rave until dawn!
Cape Tribulation
Cape Tribulation & the Daintree Rainforest
This area north of Cairns is part of the Daintree National Park and is literally where Australia's rainforest meets the reef. But looking amazing isn't the only thing Cape Trib has going for it - people love to go hiking, boardwalking, jungle zip-lining and wildlife spotting here too. Keep your eyes peeled for cassowarys, Lumholtz tree kangaroos and crocs!
Port Douglas
Sophisticated yet low-key and relaxed, quaint Port Douglas is a perfect place for recharging before the rainforest calls. Grab some towel space on Four Mile Beach, sip a cocktail in a swanky bar and wander the boutique shops for one-off buys.

Sailing in the Whitsundays from £105

An archipelago of 74 castaway islands slung across the tip of the Great Barrier reef, the wondrous Whitsundays are a showstopper of any East Coast trip. The gateway onto this paradise of near-deserted white beaches is Airlie beach. Despite the ironic lack of a beach, this party-hard town makes up for it with a vast tropical lagoon and wild nightlife. Opt to stay in Airlie, on an island resort or aboard a sailboat, catamaran or yacht!
Maxi Sailing
Ideal for: Time poor, cash-strapped socialites
Maxi Sailing is great fun and high on the adventure scale! The trip usually holds larger groups of people between the ages of 18 and 35 years. They are very sociable, so expect a bit of a party in the evening.
 
2 days from £235
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Sunlover by Starlight
Floating on a multi-level pontoon, you'll be glamping on the outer Great Barrier Reef. Spend day one snorkelling and glass bottom boats around Moore Reef. There'll also be diving options, fish feeding and a night time presentation in an underwater observatory. Plus enjoy a BBQ dinner and ocean sunrise the next morning.
2 days from £264
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Adventure Sailing: Southern Cross
Ideal for: Time-poor, cash strapped party lovers.

This sailing trip takes you to all of the Whitsudays best bits. Visit Whithaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout and remarkable reefs for some unforgettable snorkelling. Lap up all of this beauty on this full day BYOB trip, including lunch.

1 day from £105
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Reef Sleep
Reef Sleep
Why not spend a unique night at the Barrier Reef? Depart from Airlie Beach and cruise out to the Great Barrier Reef - from here jump in the blue water for a spot of snorkelling with sea turtles, reef sharks and colourful fish. That night, sleep under a blanket of stars in a 'swag' out on the reef.
 
2 days from £275
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Tours and day trips departing from Cairns

Diving in Cairns
Snorkel & Dive the Great Barrier Reef
With numerous reef locations available, each site offers a new experience, selected for its unique variety of marine life and corals. In between water activities, relax on the expansive sundecks overlooking the Coral Sea.
From £112
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Cairns
Cairns Budget Buster
Get active on this epic four-day adventure in and around Cairns. Spot crocs as you cruise through the rainforest, ride the rapids of the famous Tully River and swim and snorkel with the exotic and colourful fish and coral of the Great Barrier Reef.
4 days from £423
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Raging Thunder
Raging Thunder: Xtreme Rafting
Power down the awesome grade four Tully River, glimpsing the stunning surroundings of the World Heritage Rainforest as you whizz by! This adrenaline pumping day is packed with white water action…plus a delicious barbeque lunch.
Full day from £116
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Cairns
Cairns Adventure Package
If action and adventure is your thing - this is the trip for you! Unleash your wild side as you navigate grade four rapids, take a balloon flights over the Atherton Tablelands, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and sea kayak off beautiful Fitzroy Island.
6 days from £579
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Cape Tribulation, Daintree & Atherton Tablelands

Go Wild Cape Tribulation Overnighter
Experience one of Oz's most scenic coastal drives as you head to Port Douglas where you'll see native animals, enjoy a cruise on the Daintree River spotting crocs, and trek through rainforest. On day 2, choose from sea kayaking, horse riding and jungle surfing.
2 days from £127
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Uncle Brians
Uncle Brians Tablelands & Waterfalls Tour
Leave Cairns and head back to nature, treating yourself to an exhilarating day of amazing wildlife and scenery. Visit the Atherton Tablelands, take a cooling dip in the cascading waterfalls and capture the incredible volcanic craters.
Full day from £77
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Rainforest Daintree
Rainforest Meets Reef
Daintree is a beautiful part of Australia, where the rainforest runs right down to the edge of the sea. Get the best of both worlds on this three-day tour. You'll experience the Wildlife Habitat Sanctuary and have a  sunset paddle in a kayak. Opt to go on a Jungle Surfing zipline tour, Ocean Safari Reef Experience and Daintree River Cruise.
3 days from £294
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Discover the Great Barrier Reef with our video series

What is the Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef is like mother nature's masterpiece (and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!) - it's the largest living thing on Earth... 2,300km of reefs, islands, corals and an endless amount of brightly coloured fish, dolphins, turtles, and whales. It's even visible from space, although if you want to stay a little closer to Earth you can see it when you fly in to Cairns. You can go sailing around the islands, snorkelling the reefs, or diving into the depths of the ocean. One thing's for sure, visiting the Great Barrier Reef will be a memory that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Where is the Great Barrier Reef?

The Great Barrier Reef lies just offshore of Queensland in the Coral Sea and runs the entire length of the East Coast state. Stretching more than 2300km it's the world's largest coral reef and it's so impressive that it can even be seen from space! Each part of this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a different and exciting experience to tick off as you travel up the coast. Go sailing around the islands, snorkel the clear waters and go diving to discover the beauty of the reef. After you've experienced it, you'll understand the importance of protecting the reef so that future generations can make amazing memories just like yours. 

Looking for some more inspiration? Check out our STA Travel Blog!

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Which Great Barrier Reef trip is best for you?

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A sneak peek into hidden Queensland

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Why you should start your working holiday visa in Queensland

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